Super Stealball is a new game by Matteo Guarnieri of Rag Doll Software (makers of Ragdoll Masters–check out the game and interview here on the site). After a departure from ragdolls with N-Ball, Matteo has returned to his forte with a great use of the Ragdoll Masters engine. His site describes the game as:
Super Stealball is a crazy sports-like game in which players compete for the control of a ball. Ragdolls fly around in low gravity dribbling and tackling opponents in order to keep the ball of their colour.
Game Rules and Strategies
The rules of Super Stealball are simple. Each arena has 2-4 ragdolls and a ball. If you touch the ball it changes to your color until someone else touches it. Retain control of the ball for long enough and you pass the level.
These rules result in several viable strategies, depending on how many opponents you’re up against and the arena’s shape. In an open arena with smooth walls, you can simply try to keep the ball ahead and out of reach of your opponent by scooting along the outside way. Occasional direction changes will throw off the chase.
With more opponents, though, and in more irregularly-shaped arenas, your best bet is usually to hover around the ball and try to keep yourself between the ball and oncoming ragdolls. It’s much more like fending off attackers than it is playing keep-away.
The AI in Super Stealball can be awfully crafty. The game gets harder by increasing the difficulty of the AI’s logic, rather than by cheating in some way. On the plus side, you can learn from the AI’s technique, but when you do lose it can be a tad frustrating. After all, the computer just beat you with the exact same capabilities you posses. Creating AI is one of the difficult challenges when it comes to creating physics games, and Matteo does this very well.
The AI seems to try position itself between you and the ball, and it does a pretty good job of doing so. It’s actually more difficult to combat in the one-on-one matches. When there are multiple opponents they each have their own color and don’t work together. As a result it’s easier to worm your way in and maximize your ball time, particularly because you can pick on whichever AI color is ahead.
Playing Super Stealball is an interesting exercise in flow. On occasion you will have a very articulated thought–crap, I need to stop Green from getting more ball time–but on the whole you generally achieve a state of flow and stare thoughtless at the monitor. It’s like playing in a very engaging physical sport. You simply do. When you’re “on” you know it. The enemy seems powerless to stop you, and you manage to dominate the match. It’s a rewarding feeling.
It’s a Steal
The full version of Super Stealball is priced at $9.95. At the time of this writing, though, the whole Rag Doll Software lineup is available half-price. Super Stealball is a great game to get in and out of quickly, and at $4.95 how can anyone resist?
Head on over to the Super Stealball page at Rag Doll Software to download the free demo (2.89 MB) or order the full version of this great physics game.
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